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McKahan retires after 37 years; milestone event means sports with Grandpa

Gene McKahan works at his desk at the River Falls Municipal Utilities before his July 15 retirement after 37 years with the company. <i>Submitted photo</i>

The year Gene McKahan started working at the River Falls Municipal Utilities barcodes were used for the first time, President Nixon was impeached, and postage was 10 cents.

Seven presidents and 34 more postage cents later, McKahan retired July 15 after 37 years at the River Falls Municipal Utilities, but he said he isn't going to let that take him away from his hometown.

"I'm just retiring" said McKahan, "I'm not going away."

McKahan was born in River Falls, graduated in 1967 from River Falls High School, and went to UW-River Falls for three years until he started working at RFMU in 1974. McKahan was an electrical technician from May 1974 until this month.

He said one of the things he liked best about his job was seeing the regular customers.

"You get a call; you know the people; they know you," said McKahan.

Now that he's retired McKahan plans to spend more time with his grandchildren: Madeline, 10; Rachel, 8; Timmy, 5; and Megan, 2, playing sports.

All his grandchildren, including 2-year-old Megan, are athletically inclined, a trait McKahan said he shares with them.

The high school athlete was on the wrestling team and track team all four years at RFHS. Now he plays sports with his grandchildren.

Madeline plays basketball and softball. Rachel does Tae Kwon Do, and likes to have her grandfather watch whenever she breaks a board. Timmy likes baseball.

"Timmy's a great Joe Mauer fan," said McKahan. "He wants to be a catcher."

And Megan wants to do everything.

"She takes it all in," said McKahan. "If one's playing ball she wants to do that. If one's playing soccer she wants to do that."

The other thing McKahan said he is looking forward to doing in his retirement is spending more time at his cabin with his family and his 13-year-old Jack Russell Terrier Baron.

McKahan said for him, the cabin is truly a second home, not just a place to visit.

"I know the neighbors up there as well as I know the ones down here," said McKahan.

McKahan is also a captain with the River Falls Fire Department. Though he's retired from the utility, McKahan said he won't be quitting the fire department because he enjoys helping other people.

"It's twofold," said McKahan, "You chose to think that what you do is gonna make a difference and when you see it does make a difference, it's really rewarding."

McKahan said he is looking forward to fire calls being the only interruption in doing all those jobs around the house he's been meaning to finish for years now.

But most of all, McKahan said he wants to spend time with his family. He and his wife plan to visit their daughter Amanda Guler of Pelican Rapids, and her family, and their son Adam who is a paramedic fireman for the city of Sacramento, Calif.

McKahan said he enjoyed the camaraderie he found working at the utility but it was time to move on.

"My wife and I talked it over," said McKahan, "and we thought that when I hit 62 and 37 years, it would just be a good time to retire."

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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